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 * Unlike other bus systems, Unitrans operates full schedules only during the regular UC Davis academic term (S and T lines follow the DJUSD calendar). Buses operate less often and stop running earlier during finals week, breaks between quarters, and in the summer. Weekend service is limited to only the J, W, P, Q, and O lines. Most holidays run similar to weekend service.  * Unlike other bus systems, Unitrans operates full schedules only during the regular UC Davis academic term (S and T lines follow the DJUSD calendar). Buses operate less often and stop running earlier during finals week, breaks between quarters, and in the summer. Weekend service is limited to only the D, J, L-limited, O, P, Q, and W lines. Most holidays run similar to weekend service.

unitrans_yard.JPGThe Unitrans bus yard

5 South Hall at UC Davis
Hours of Operation
Can be found [WWW]here
(530)752-BUSS (2877)
Web Site
[WWW]http://unitrans.ucdavis.edu/ or [WWW]http://unitrans.com
Associated Students of UC Davis

Unitrans is the primary bus system for Davis residents. Unitrans is operated by the Associated Students at UC Davis, and drivers of the buses are all UC Davis undergraduate students. Many bus drivers are also members of the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh!, earning those drivers the nickname of "Band-uh-Trans". There are only a few career positions at Unitrans, mainly in Administration (General Manager, Assistant General Managers, Administrative Assistants) and Maintenance (Maintenance Manager and Career Mechanics).

  1. Rider Information
    1. Fares
      1. Grad Students
      2. Discount Fares and Passes
    2. Transfers
    3. Bus Lines
    4. Is My Bus On Time?
    5. Additional Notes
  2. History
  3. Operations
    1. Structure of Student Positions
      1. Student Managers
      2. Supervisors and Trainers
      3. Entry Level Positions
    3. Bus Information
    4. Trivia
  4. Other Links

Rider Information


unitrans_bus.jpgA Unitrans bus pulls into a stop on Cowell.

The fare to ride the bus is just $1. However, many passengers ride for free because they belong to one of the many exempt groups listed below. Frequent riders may be interested in discounted passes and ten-ride tickets. Full fare information can be found at the Unitrans website at [WWW]http://unitrans.ucdavis.edu/fares.

Free Riders Include:

Grad Students

TAPS sells passes for an additional 40% off to UCD-affiliated non-undergrads (e.g., grad students, employees, and faculty). This comes to about 40 cents per pass. Note that this discount is only available at the TAPS office and not at other places where passes are sold.

Grad Students can also ride the bus in two ways:

Discount Fares and Passes

Unitrans offers several discount passes available to community members (prices are as of June 2008): Annual ($180), quarterly ($64), and monthly ($25), as well as a "Summer Sizzler" pass that allows children age 5-17 ride all summer on both Unitrans and Yolobus for $15.

Passes can be purchased at City Hall, Transportation & Parking Services, Freeborn Hall Box Office, and the Unitrans Business Office at 5 South Hall. You can also call 752-BUSS and order a pass over the phone with a credit card.

In addition, 10-ride ticket passes can be purchased at Davis High School, Harper Junior High School, and Holmes Junior High School.


Bus Lines

The S-line is primarily for Harper and Holmes Junior High (these buses do not serve Emerson) and the T-line is for Davis Senior High School. Anyone can ride these buses, though they only run on DJUSD school days long enough to get students to their morning classes (roughly 7am-9am) and to take them home at the end of the day (3:30pm-4pm).

Is My Bus On Time?

Unitrans in the Summer of 2009 outfitted many of their buses with [wikipedia]Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that tie into the NextBus service, a 3rd party. NextBus is a "real-time" Internet and telecom service that provides, for buses so outfitted, the latest arrival information for serviced stops. It is free to Unitrans riders and any one with an interest in knowing if a bus will be ontime. Keep in mind that since this is a new system, it may not be available on all buses.

Arrival estimates can be queried automatically via SMS using your cell phone and can even be set to automatically page you. Or you can call an automated line and simply punch in your stop number (530-204-5529). The [WWW]website provides a simple, regularly refreshing information page for a selected stop. They also have "live maps" to show you where the buses on a line currently are and what the latest arrival times are for each bus stop.

Visit the [WWW]NextBus Unitrans website to see if your bus is on time or held up in traffic.

Additional Notes


Unitrans was created in 1968 by ASUCD President Bob Black after the purchase of two London double-decker buses, and was known as the University Transport System. In 1972 Unitrans, as it became known, began operating to serve the general public, and a partnership with the City of Davis (including partial funding) began. The partnership with the city has expanded and continues to this day. 1

[WWW]article about the 40th Anniversary from the February 22nd California Aggie.

Just in time for Earth Day 2008 Unitrans joined up with [WWW]Google to put their routes on [WWW]Google Maps. This means you can plan trips across town using Google Maps.


Unitrans has a few strange procedures which ensure safe and reliable service. Below are some examples of these procedures.

Structure of Student Positions

All student positions are filled by undergraduates, from Operations Manager to Conductor (but graduate students can also apply).

Student Managers

Operations Manager - is the highest-level operations student employee. Oversees daily operations of the system. Also leads the Route Supervisors.

Human Resources Manager - is the highest-level human resources student employee. In charge of the hiring and release of all non-manager student positions, oversees the shift selection of all drivers, sets up and participates in all interview boards, and plans and prepares staff development activities.

Lead Driver Trainer - is a student responsible for overseeing the training program, supervising all DTs and arranging training schedules for new drivers.

Route Training Manager - is a student responsible for overseeing RTs and arranging a route training schedules for newly licensed drivers.

Planning Manager - is a student employee in charge of route planning and changes for the annual Unitrans schedule.

Marketing Manager - is in charge of producing the annual schedule and oversees all outreach, publicity, and service announcements.

Conductor Manager - trains all conductors and performs evaluations.

Business Office Manager - oversees Office Clerks and handles all Business Office operations.

Support Services Manager - keeps the buses tidy and clean. Makes sure we look good out on the road. Handles scheduling of SS Supes and SS Assistants.

Supervisors and Trainers

Supervisors ("supes" in the vernacular) and Trainers must hold a certain number of safe driving hours, must currently hold a prerequisite position within Unitrans, and must satisfy other requirements.

Route Supervisor - is the voice of "Dispatch" and the "Road Supervisor." "Supes" oversee the daily operation of all aspects of bus service in the City of Davis. If a bus breaks down, they attempt to fix it. If a bus is late, they arrange a "tripper" to start the late bus' next line on time. Approximately 20 of the most senior students in Unitrans hold this position. It requires a minimum of 500 safe driving hours, double-deck training, and conductor training.

Driver Trainer - is a student trainer for new drivers; trainers can also lead refreshers during the summer to ensure that all currently-employed drivers maintain adequate DMV-mandated training hours per year, as well as provide accident refreshers as needed. Some "DTs" are also qualified to be Double-Deck DTs, or Out-of-Town Charter ("OTC") DTs. Primarily, DTs work with newly-hired employees to efficiently train them in the use and operation of all single-deck buses (as double decks require OTC training and 500 hours of driving with no accidents). The training comprises over 14 phases, usually spread over a quarter.

Route Trainer - is another training position at Unitrans. RT's train new drivers after they obtain their class B license on Unitrans policies and routes. You will often see RT's on board buses being mentors to new drivers as they drive their first shifts in revenue service. Being an RT requires a minimum of 500 driving hours and a safe driving record.

Support Services Supervisor - Supervisor of all Support Services Assistants.

Entry Level Positions

Transit Driver - is the student driving your bus. Drivers receive behind-the-wheel training upon passing the DMV's written tests for a California Class B Commercial Driver License, with Passenger and Air Brakes endorsements. Drivers-in-training drive all of the single decks at some point, from Orion Mark V, VII, to New Flyer. Every driver is required to know all 18 bus routes like the back of their hand.

Transit Conductor - the student standing on the vintage double decker platform waving the flag. Conductors are friendly faces that greet you on your ride with our unique London double decker buses, and ensure your safety while on board.

Shop Assistant - is one of the student mechanics who assist the career staff in maintaining the buses.

Support Services Assistant - works at the Pad, washing the buses with the giant bus washer, and maintaining the cleanliness of all Unitrans vehicles.

Office Clerks - are those friendly, helpful voices on the other side of 752-BUSS. In charge of all customer service and passenger/driver data. Led by the Business Office Manager.


Why would you want to be a Unitrans driver?

Bus Information

See the Unitrans Buses page for more detailed information.

Most of the buses (including one double-decker) run on compressed natural gas (CNG). The remaining ones have diesel engines. The switch to a dominantly-natural-gas-powered fleet occurred on April 5th, 1996. Because of the California Air Resources Board's regulations, Unitrans plans to retire all of the older diesel buses by the end of 2007.

hydrogenbus.jpgThe now-defunct hydrogen/natural gas bus parked at the Silo charter-bus.jpgThis seriously looks like a charter bus from the inside. Man, I'd love to ride in one of these. The Unitrans fleet currently consists of the following:

* RT 2819 is one of the only known CNG-Converted London RT Double Deckers in existence.
** RT 3123 is currently in the process of being converted to CNG.
RT 1235 was in the process of being converted to CNG, but now has been stripped for parts and is current a frame at the Unitrans Maintenance Garage
RTL 1014 is the only double-deck to maintain its original 'pre-select' shifting transmission and original engine, it has been sent back to London's Ensign Bus Transport Museum

Unitrans' most prominent color is red. The entirety of the Unitrans fleet follows the red color scheme, which was adopted in April 1995 to coincide with the purchase of the new Orion buses. The current color scheme was intended to match the single deck fleet to the colors of the vintage double deckers. Previously, Unitrans buses were white with red and blue stripes along the sides. The first buses to sport this color scheme were the "New Look" GMC buses purchased from San Diego. The remainder of the fleet at the time was matched to this color scheme. All buses that once sported this color scheme have been retired from the fleet and sold.

Sources of Unitrans buses:

Bus_board.JPGa photo by ForestNeel-Grant Some buses go on to lead other lives after their service at Unitrans like the Jazz Bus.


The last run of a driver before retiring/graduating has led to some pranks in the past. It started with just parking backwards at the MU upon completion of the drivers' final runs and escalated into parking on lawns, backwards on the lawns, in the doorway of Hickey Gym, in the courtyard of the MU (bowling alley folks were unhappy about that...who knew the roof isn't rated for bus loads?), doing donuts on the Russell IM fields...

StevenDaubert says he has seen drivers chock the wheels of other buses as a prank, however it was very amusing when the victim just drove over the chock and continued on her merry way.

Unitrans drivers used to get silly on the radio in the late hours when not many people were listening; and do things like trivia. It's rare now. Yolobus wasn't fond of it either, back in the days when Yolobus and Unitrans shared a frequency.

Other Links

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